Start 3D Printing on a budget

I debated for a long time about getting a 3D printer. There were always questions that prevented me from taking the leap. Would I regularly use it? Will I struggle to learn a new program? Is it worth the cost? Questions like these kept me from purchasing a printer for a very long time. In fact I had probably watched over a 100 videos on the topic and placed various printers into my shopping cart in Amazon. After getting a professional end printer at work I saw how easy it really was to print and immediately started building a list of potential projects. Well I finally made the leap and let me tell you it has been squeezing out PLA filament every night since I assembled it. With Amazon Prime Day coming up, now might be your time to consider the leap as well. Get your 30 day free trial here.

Printing painters tripods

Free print file from Thingiverse

I purchased the Longer LK4 3D Printer. This may not be a top 10 device but it is a great starter. In fact it is much like the popular Ender 3D printer series and even uses most of the same parts which makes it easily customizable. At the time of my purchase there was a $30 off coupon on Amazon. It uses most filament brands of PLA and will also support printing with ABS and wood filament. Wood is actually just wood color PLA that is stainable like regular wood. I suppose when I do try wood for the first time I will have to print a Groot model as a right of passage into the 3D print world. In the mean time I have been running files for tools to use around the shop including the paint wedges seen in the feature photo and video.

The Longer LK4 is the cheapest of the Longer series and it comes with its own slicer software. If your nervous about designing your own prints, don’t worry. There are millions of 3D printable files available on the internet and most are free. There is also a huge community of fellow hobbyists who are willing to share their knowledge and tips with newbies. There is also a treasure trove of videos available from beginner to advanced on YouTube.

If you are interested in this printer you can pick it up on Amazon and at the time of this post there is a $30 coupon. My affiliate link is below and clicking on it helps to support this page.

Pros and Cons of 3D Printing


  • You can print just about anything, especially those hard to find items.
    • Its probably already out on the internet for you to find. If not learning how to model using software like Fusion 360 is always an option.
    • You can print from scans. If you get a 3D scanner you can image items you already have and reprint them. There are even phone apps that allow you to scan from you iphone or android.
  • Materials are cheap
    • The average spool of filament runs around $20 and depending on your printing requirements can produce numerous items from a single roll. In comparison I saw a print for a bag clip that estimated the cost to be $0.15 per 3″ clip.


  • Can be Time Consuming
    • The average print can take several hours. I still have not given in to letting the printer go overnight or even while I am away. There are hacks and modifications many makers do to allow remote monitoring by camera and rasberry pi, however I am not yet there in my skill level.
  • Prints can Fail
    • It is not uncommon, even for experts to have print fails. You come back to find a giant hairball of filament instead of a printed cosplay mask. But the same can be said for any project.

How will I use my 3D Printer

Aside from the tools I have printed for the shop, I have a laundry list of props I want to make for Halloween or even for use at the theater (if we ever get back on stage). Maybe I will print a holster for my alien ray gun I use in Rocky Horror, or how about the candle holders from The Haunted Mansion.

Haunted Mansion Candle Holders

Leave a Reply